BOSTON (CBS) — Is this it for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as Brooklyn Nets?
That could be very well the case for the duo, as the Nets trail the Toronto Raptors 3-2 in the best-of-seven first round series entering Game 6. The Nets host the Raptors this evening at the Barclays Center with their backs against the wall in hopes of extending the series to a Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday.
While it’s fair to ask what’s next for the former Celtics duo if the Nets fall tonight, the more pressing question may be how much the pair will play in Game 6. Pierce and Garnett did not see action in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 115-113 Game 5 loss to the Raptors on Tuesday night.
Brooklyn nearly came back from a 26-point second half deficit in Game 5, and Jason Kidd chose to stick with his reserves that led the comeback until the final buzzer instead of turning to his veterans down the stretch.
It was quite the departure from Game 1 of the series for Pierce, who scored nine points in the final frame of that contest to lead the Nets to victory.
Garnett’s minutes (17.8 per game) have been limited all series as he continues to recover from back spasms that sidelined him during the final two months of the regular season.
After Tuesday’s loss, Pierce remained confident his team would be able to turn it around.
“Without a doubt [we can win the series],” Pierce told the New York Daily News after Game 5. “We have to play better Friday at home and we’ll see the Raptors here next week.”
Over the years, Pierce and Garnett have lived for these moments. Time after time, while being counted out during their days with the Celtics, the pair have fought back and pushed playoff series to the brink. Given how much the Nets sacrificed for both players in the blockbuster deal with the Celtics last offseason, this is exactly the kind of moment Billy King brought in both players for.
Kidd needs to take the reigns off both players tonight and stick with them for major minutes in front of the home crowd. Pierce and Garnett have earned that and have shown they won’t go down without a fight.
Win or lose, plenty of questions will surround both players this offseason. Pierce is a free agent. Garnett still has one year remaining on his contract, but retirement is a very real possibility. What looked like a bad trade with Boston could become one of the most lopsided deals in NBA history if this team doesn’t make it out of the first round and both players aren’t wearing a Brooklyn uniform next year.
With a matchup against the Miami Heat awaiting them if the Nets prevail in this series, no one in Boston wants to see Pierce and Garnett’s playoff ride come to an end before they get a shot at Lebron and Company.
Do both players have enough left in the tank to make it happen? We find out starting tonight.
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON